Football

Top five: Match-winning volleys from the modern era

Gerrard steps up once again. (©GettyImages)
Gerrard steps up once again. (©GettyImages).

2) Steven Gerrard, Liverpool vs West Ham

When Steven Gerrard decides to hang up his boots, he will be remembered as one of England's greatest ever players, a player with nearly-unheard of levels of loyalty to his club, and a great ambassador for modern football. 

People will look back at his tenure as captain of Liverpool Football Club and speak in hushed tones of his goal against Olympiakos, the way he hauled Liverpool back from 3-0 down against Milan to lift the Champions League title in 2005 and the way he nearly inspired the club to Premier League glory in 2009.

However, if there was ever one performance of Gerrard's that deserves to be remembered forever, it has to be his display in the FA Cup final in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, against West Ham in 2006.

The match that will forever be referred to as "The Gerrard Final" saw West Ham take a two-goal lead in the first half. Gerrard lofted a superb cross-field ball for Djibril Cisse to claw one back, before the man himself rifled a superb volley in from inside the penalty area (a goal that almost made it to the top-five!) early in the second half. 

2-2, game on. 

Nine minutes later, a freak goal from Paul Konchesky saw West Ham take the lead again, leaving Liverpool needing another goal to take the match into extra time. Liverpool continued to knock on the door, but even at 90 minutes, the scoreboard read West Ham 3-2 Liverpool. 

A long ball into the West Ham box saw the ball headed out, and Gerrard, who was suffering from intense cramps by this time, saw the ball bounce perfectly for him. Despite being closer the halfline than the goal, he went for the volley, and what happened next sent each of the 71,140 fans in the stadium into either shock or ecstasy, depending on their allegiance that day. 

The ball rocketed past the melee of legs in the penalty area, and flew past Shaka Hislop before he could react.

Gerrard has since said that he only took on the shot because he was too tired and pained by cramps to take a touch and play a long ball. 

After repeatedly looking at videos of his breathtaking 30-yard volley, one can only wonder what he would have been capable had he been fully fit. Or maybe the goal was one of those that takes a moment of inspiration, and not physical fitness. 

Either way, you can be sure that you won't see a better volley very often. It was a goal that only comes around once in a generation, and you would have to be touched in the head to not have your jaw drop in awe of Gerrard's second goal that night.

Of course, this goal wasn't theoretically the game-winner, as Liverpool went on to win via penalties, but try telling a Liverpool fan that it wasn't a great, great goal, and one of supreme importance!

Topics:
Paul Scholes
Steven Gerrard
Football
Zinedine Zidane

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